Sunday, May 12, 2019


It was almost a year ago that Fujifilm put the new XF 16mm f2.8 lens on the "lens road map". Fujifilm is to my knowledge, one of the only camera and lens manufactures that keeps an online list of lenses (lens road map) that are planned, still in development but not formally launched. Generally new lenses start appearing about 12 to 18 months ahead of the official launch on the lens road map.

On Valentine's day 2019, Fujifilm announced the XF 16 f2.8 R WR lens, a brand-new weather sealed, compact wide angle prime.

The fine guys of Fujifilm Middle East were once again nice enough to lend me a production copy about three weeks back, for a "First Look review". Since then it didn't leave my XT-3 body and was used extensively in Bangkok, Hamburg, Madrid and of course in and around Dubai!

Great built quality is what one has come to expect from any Fujifilm XF lens and you will not be disappointed. Made in the Philippines versus Japan for the the 23mm, 35mm and 50mm f2.0 primes, I do not see or feel any difference between them. 

Built entirely out of metal it has an aperture ring (R in the lens name), which has the right amount of resistance. I would have liked to see a little bit of  a harder detent when it goes past f22 into A mode, but this is of course not a show stopper. 

The manual focus ring is small, especially for medium sized male hands; needless to say, this is needed to keep the form factor that small. Personally I don't see myself using manual focus much on this lens, as the Autofocus is one of the best (if not "the" best) of all Fujifilm lenses. More later.

Yes, this lens is indeed tiny. Compared to the XF 16 f1.4 lens, it is about half as tall and half as wide, making it a real compact wide-angle option. Size wise it really fits in well with the other compact f2.0 primes. 

It weighs in at only 155g, which is feather-light compared to 375g for the XF16 1.4. Available in black and silver, it should be available from the date this post goes live. 

Since the lens front element doesn't rotate on focussing, using a circular polarizer  or graduated Neutral Density (ND) filter on the 49mm filter treat, works well. 

Last but not least, the lens is weather sealed (WR - Weather Resistant) which allows you to shoot in the rain, snow, dust or sand as long as the camera body you use it on, is weather resistant as well; X-T1, X-T2, X-T3, X-Pro2, X-H1 all are.

The lens comes with a nice little petal shaped lens hood, made out of hard plastic which for me is the best looking and most functional lens hood provided with all of the Fujifilm lenses. Like the lens itself, its size is nice and small, keeping the form factor compact. It can be inverted for installation, but I never felt the need to do so.

Especially on the newer camera bodies, all of the recent Fujifilm lenses are blazingly fast when it comes to autofocus and this one might be the winner of them all... Given its small size, there is of course a limited amount of glass to be moved which always helps with AF. Beside the speed, the AF is also dead-on with absolutely no AF hunting (tested on X-T3 with 3.0 firmware). Like the other f2.0 lenses, autofocus is quiet and can barely be noticed. 

The lens focusses quite close at 17cm (compared to the 15cm on the f1.4 version).

First of all, my "First look reviews" are not meant to be a pixel peeping exercise; there are other blogs that do this much better. I'll limit myself to a quick look at overall sharpness, lens flare and chromatic aberration. 

Being small and nimble, the XF16 f2.8 does certainly not disappoint when it comes to image quality (IQ). It's much larger brother, XF16 f1.4, is often referred to as one of Fujfilm's best and sharpest lenses, so a direct comparison is not really fair. After all we are talking about a completely different price point for both lenses.

When stopped down all the way to f2.8, the corners are a little softer but start being sharp from f4 onwards. 

Below is the same image shot on a tripod, under the same light conditions and camera settings at f5.6. The XF16 f1.4 is on the left while the new f2.8 lens is on the right. The first one is the overall view, second left bottom corner at 100% zoom and the last one the center section at 100%. Click on the image for a full size view. The corner sharpness is still a little softer with the f2.8 lens while the center focus is identical for both lenses at f5.6. 

A lot of people don't realize that on a modern camera system, even when shooting RAW, the lens is digitally corrected in-camera for distortion and lens flaws. The distortion visible in both jpeg and RAW files is minimal for this wide-angle lens.

Lens flare is kept very well under control and was hard to trigger with the lens hood attached.   

When the conditions are right for it, and especially at close focus distance, you'll find some Spherical Aberration at wide-open or close to apertures (f2.8-3.2). 

Below is an illustration of this with a shot at f2.8 on the left and one at f4 where the effect is gone on the right. This is common for most wide-angle lenses under these conditions and even the XF16 f1.4 suffers from a little bit of Abberation at f1.4. Lastly, I want to highlight that this is only visible under some very specific conditions; it is not something I personally worry about!


Finally... below are some real life images I shot over the last three weeks. All shot handheld on the X-T3, with the majority being shot in jpeg.


1/320, f11, ISO160

1/320, f8, ISO1250

1/640, f8, ISO200

1/320, f2.8, ISO2500

1/320, f6.4, ISO200

1/320, f6.4, ISO6400

1/150, f8, ISO6400

1/320, f8, ISO2000

1/320, f5.6, ISO1250

1/320, f11, ISO160

1/320, f5.6, ISO4000

1/18, f2.8, ISO800

1/700, f9, ISO160

1/500, f8, ISO160

1/320, f5.6, ISO1250

1/320, f8, ISO160

1/320, f8, ISO200
1/320, f11, ISO320
Blog-readers will know that I like to shoot Street/Travel photography with the XF23mm f2.0 compact prime. At times, I feel like shooting wider and then typically will take the XF16 f1.4 with me. It is however a much heavier and more conspicuous lens than the smaller lenses. 

When shooting street with a wide-angle (24mm full frame equivalent), one typically will be much closer to the main subject; the main reason where the  smaller lens comes in handy. 

Personally I would have loved to see a second version of the older 18mm f2 before this lens, but after having shot it exclusively for 3 weeks, I must say that there is really very little negative to write about this small compact wide-angle. 

I can see two main reasons why one might pick the XF16 f1.4 instead of the f2.8 version of the lens; the first one is for those shooting a lot of close-up images with a shallow depth of field. The second one is for those that shoot a lot hand-held at night and who might need the extra two stops of light. 

Lastly, even though there are a few instances where the larger XF16 f1.4 will perform slightly better, the 400,-USD price point of the f2.8 is hard to beat! And who says, that one can't have both! 

The above review can be shared on Social media and Blogs without prior approval, as long as credit to Bjorn Moerman PHOTOGRAPHY ( is given.  



No comments: